TypePad Crash Irks Bloggers

After a series of server woes in October and November, blogging service TypePad, owned by Six Apart, experienced another major outage last week.

The latest problems prompted a new round of complaints from users of TypePad, which only several weeks ago assuaged users by offering 45 days' free service to compensate for the outages.

Anil Dash, TypePad's vice president of professional products, said the outage occurred when the company's servers crashed while they were adding more redundant backup storage capacity.

The downtime stopped users from posting and commenting for several hours. Later, TypePad restored some functionality, but the blog pages displayed were from backups, so many blogs appeared to have lost their most recent posts--although, Dash said, the data is still there on the servers. The crash occurred Friday, around 2:00 a.m.

"We were restarting a new redundant storage system, and had a failure during that restart process," Dash said. "It's kind of like a perfect storm--at the point we were adding on a redundancy, we had a failure." He said that Friday's trouble was unrelated to the past service outages. TypePad this weekend restored the content not displayed on the caches, and all the posts and most of the recently uploaded pictures and files were restored by 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

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After the previous downtime that TypePad faced in October and November, the company sent out an open letter to its users, apologizing for the service problems and allowing them to choose either 0, 30, or 45 days of free service. Dash said the company might do something similar in response to last week's outage. "We're definitely going to do what it takes to make it right. Until we know the severity and the scale of what's happened, it'll be some time till we figure exactly what we'll do," he said. "One of the things that TypePad users have told us loud and clear is that they like that level of dialogue."

Pete Blackshaw, chief marketing officer of buzz monitoring firm Intelliseek, said more server troubles for TypePad could mean permanent loss of users. "The buzz will be negative, and for some, unforgiving," he said. "Bloggers build their reputation on constantly updating and refreshing content."

Blackshaw also said that when the blogs that went down came back online, many of the bloggers first posted apologies and explanations, which mentioned the server troubles, thus writing them indelibly into search engine indexes. "The real ROI impact for TypePad will be if organic search results on Google or Yahoo! shift toward the negative for the brand," he said. "The last thing TypePad wants is for all their bloggers to apologize to their readers because that will rewire the search algorithms. This is where conversation has such a lasting impact."

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